Saturday, March 14, 2009

UPDATE: Highlights of the protest at Fordham HS for the Arts on March 13th

....after a hard day’s work for most of us who labor in NYC schools

SEE THE VIDEO



by Woodlass (http://underassault.blogspot.com/), guest contributor
March 14, 2009

The rally was introduced by Lynne Winderbaum (district rep, Bx HSS), who was flanked by the likes of Michael Mulgrew (Chief Operating Officer of the union), LeRoy Barr (Director of Staff), Jose Vargas (Bx Borough rep), and Rodney Grubiak (Bronx special rep).

Something’s got the UFT’s attention for a change.

Winderbaum slammed into Iris Blige and her wayward approach to educators, kids, and schools and said the union is “fed up” with the DoE’s support of principals like this one, who ¨ruin lives and ruin careers.” There are many of these in the city, but few of them get publicized for their aberrational behavior (see JD2718 here, and his July 08 ¨Do Not Apply” list as well).

Blige and her triumvirate (as someone called the staff of three she empowered to help her run the school) have set up a culture of terror. She disciplines teachers in front of kids, comes out of what someone called her “bat cave” to yell at students without knowing their names, and sends chapter leaders and other staff to the rubber room on false charges and on no charges. Some languish there for up to two years until their cases are dismissed.

¨It was hard to come to work in the morning,” said Peter Healy, a teacher who had decided Fordham Arts was no place for him and has found a position elsewhere.

Yesterday’s rally was organized in support of teacher Raqnel James, who has recently become a victim of Blige’s miserable judgment and management skills. It was reported at a recent union meeting that Blige arranged for eleven cops to come and arrest her at school, claiming she had written a letter that had included threats. Lacking evidence (the letter was faked), the police refused to charge her. Blige remains unscathed, protected by a chancellor who seemingly condones, and maybe even asks for administrator misconduct that borders on or exceeds legal limits (who knows).

Another gruesome story came from Fannie Davis, a veteran teacher of 32 years who had been a popular dean of students when Blige decided to excess her. She grieved, and after what looked like a successful hearing, Davis returned to the school to face a pissed off Blige. With the help of one of her APs (who later rescinded his statement and apologized to Davis personally for his action), Blige trumped up a cause for Davis's removal. Into the rubber room went she the very next day, where she remained sans allegation, sans charges, sans meetings, sans everything.

One full school year later, out of the blue, came a simple letter telling Davis to go back to work, which she did, but only to serve in a series of activities hardly matching her 34 years of teaching expertise: cafeteria and bleachers supervision, and copy machine duties (they told her to watch TV while she was down there doing that).

After some months of this, and fearful that a U-rating would be doled out come June no matter what, calls were made, emails were sent, lawyers were convened, and solution was found. She's now teaching her own subject at two different sites, free of Blige and enjoying her profession once again.

Blige, by the way, is footing the bill for this. Sweet!

Joel Klein is burnishing his legacy.

Michael Mulgrew picked up where Winderbaum left off. He told the crowd that the whole community is saying they want their school back and enjoined everyone present to make sure to keep the fight going.

[Editorial comment: With the UFT's stunning inability to keep any fight going, or even to recognize where the battles are, I’m not sure Mulgrew was in any position to request this of the teachers who came out for this rally in the cold.]

A pumped up LeRoy Barr said Blige has been sending a strong message: ¨We are clear we will not allow [teachers] to be respected in this building," which he says qualifies her for the PINI program Principals in Need of Improvement. (I'm yawning.)

Jose Vargas added that if anyone is punished for participating or supporting this rally in any way, he wants to know about it.

{Ed Note: YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING! HEY JOSE, CAN YOU SEE? HOW MANY YEARS OF HARASSMENT DID THESE PEOPLE UNDERGO? REMIND US EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID ABOUT IT.}

As the crowd chanted ¨RELEASE MS. JAMES, REMOVE BLIGE!" and "HEY, HO, IRIS BLIGE HAS GOT TO GO!", people were seen peeking out upper floor windows. Rumor has it that Blige was out of the building taking a group of intimidated first-year teachers to dinner.

Whew! With all that activism, one could get the impression our union has taken a stand against Klein.

Don’t count on it. We may respect some of our district reps for their commitment and efforts on our behalf, but the higher-ups are not dealing with the virus that has infected NYC education.

9 comments:

  1. This rally felt like redemption for those of us who have suffered under the leadership at Fordham High School for the Arts.

    Iris Blige is a Principal who hides behind tyranny and abuse to disguise her incompetence. Having never taught, she is unable to translate what she understands as sound educational practice into leadership. When I first met her, I asked about her teaching background. She gave the vague response, “ I worked in special education.” During the first days of school, she took the lead in a professional development workshop for which she allocated 45 minutes for the presentation. She finished in 10 minutes and set the faculty to work on the application. Everyone gazed at each other confused because they did not understand the task. I immediately realized this woman never taught a day in her life.

    As a result of Iris Blige’s educational ignorance, she is ineffective as a principal, and is unable to complete the most basic supervisory task of evaluating teachers through the observation process. Whenever she does an observation, she brings with her an AP who does the write-up for her. Afraid to be known, she is paranoid of anyone who is going to pull her cover and reveal her ineptitude. This paranoia is evidenced by the tenured faculty who have faced false accusations to the untenured teachers who have been arbitrarily given u ratings and denied tenure.

    It is odious that the DOE has allowed such ineffectiveness to become the career-ender for so many promising young teachers. Competent principals would be able to recognize talent and effectively develop that talent into mastery. Unfortunately for many untenured teachers, that opportunity has been robbed from them.

    Hopefully this rally, serving as an expression of our first amendment rights, will bring to light the abuses of this dictatorial style of leadership. Our country was founded on the idea of that we all share basic rights; let’s hope these rights can be restored at Fordham High School for the Arts and the other schools who suffer under tyranny.

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  2. I say about time!!! I think the members of the UFT should have a protest such as this one every week, at different schools. There should be a list of principal's who use these tactics to intimidate and humiliate the members. Every single week we need to show up at these schools and send a clear message to these principals that there is indeed accountability and we are not going to take it any more. I, for one would be out there every Friday as I am a victim of this too!!!

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  3. That something is all the hard work ICE has been doing to inform everyone of the injustices that are taking place. The UFT brass are getting nervous and shaken up. it's about time.

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  4. See the JD link for the list of schools that were "in attendance" - it should be way longer next time.

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  5. Until Norm gets a chance to put this up, here's a link to a video one teacher made:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rheCzh1jqTU

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  6. I was a teacher at FHSA for almost 2 unbearable months before I could no longer take it and left the school (and the profession). It is unfortunate that the administration, particularly Ms. Blige's uncomfortable aura, makes it so difficult for teachers to succeed. I was sad that I left, as I adored the students I taught, but I knew I could not make it through the school year wondering if I would be the next sent to the rubber room or coming to work every morning sick to my stomach at the thought of the next ridiculous set of procedures.

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  7. I really think that Bloomberg has put so much pressure on administrators and teachers that everyone feels like their job is treatened and reacts to this by becoming demanding and abusive so afraid of being accused of doing a poor job. If Bloomberg could lightened up a little and be less demanding and tyranical in his behavior towards teachers and principals I think that principals and teachers would feel more free and comfortable working together. Teachers and administrators don't need to be told what to do every second of the day. There is too much pressure on everyone. He needs to acknowledge that teachers and administrators shouln't be treated like incompetent people who don't know what they are doing in the schools. Teachers don't need him or principals telling them what they have to do every second of the day. If you treat a person like a caged animal they will act accordingly. Teachers and administrators need to have autonomy treated with respect and dignity. Instead they are treated like morons who don't know what they are doing and need Mr. Bloomberg to teach them. Someone who has never taught a day in his life. Teachers need to feel that they have some control of what happens in their classroom the same way a principal needs to feel she has some control in the school. Mr. Bloomberg seems to be a very smart man but yet he can't see what damage he has caused by putting so much pressure on the teachers in the schools. He has made everyone so afraid of not being able to do their job that they are at each others throat. thank you.

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  8. I HATE ms. Blige!!!!!!!! She's an immature little BITCH who spends her days thinking of ways to make everyone around her miserable. From shoving a student, to ripping harmless posters. That bitch GOTTA GO! Im glad this is my senior year!

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  9. THIS PRINCIPAL IRIS BLIGE HARASSED MY DAUGHTER...A 9TH GRADER WHO LOVES TO SING ...GREAT STUDENT WHOM RESPECTS AND FOLLOWS ALL RULES MY DAUGHTER WHO HAS GOALS AND WANTS TO PROSPER ..MY DAUGHTER WHO HAS TO DEAL WITH OTHER CHILDREN BULLY...MY DAUGHTER WHO ALREADY STRUGGLES WITH THE COMMUNITY WE LIVE IN!.. SHE DEGRADED MY DAUGHTER.HARASSED HER HUMILIATED HER AND A FEW OTHER STUDENTS AND AFTER SHE DEGRADED THEM SHE FORCED THEM TO TAKE A REGENTS TEST SHE FOLLOWED MY DAUGHTER AND HARASSED HER THE SAME DAY ...I TRIED TO SET A MEETING WITH HER FOR HER TO EXPLAIN TO ME WHY SHE HUMILIATED MY DAUGHTER AND THEN FORCE HER TO TAKE A TEST A REGENTS TEST TO TOP IT OFF...AND SHE KICKED ME OUT THE SCHOOL...SHE IS VERY UNPROFESSIONAL AND DESERVES TO GET FIRED... WE NEED GOOD PRINCIPALS IN OUR SCHOOLS NOT BULLY'S.... SHE IS A BULLY AND SHE WANTS TO DESTROY WHO EVER SHE DOES NOT LIKE...WHO EVER SHE FEELS THE NEED TO PUT ON HER LIST... I WISH I HAD POWER TO PUT HER OUT OF THE SCHOOL SYSTEM... KIDS DEAL WITH A LOT AND HAVE A LOT ON THEIR PLATES WITH DAY TO DAY LIFE STRUGGLES.... NOW THEY HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT PRINCIPALS WHO ARE GOING TO BULLY THEM!!!!! ITS NOT FARE AND I'M GOING TO FIGHT THIS WITH ALL MY MIGHT...

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